Hands-Only CPR: Skip the Mouth-to-Mouth Breathing-Experts Now Recommend Hands-Only CPR for Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Adults
Berggoetz, Barb, The Saturday Evening Post
When someone collapse of sudden cardiac arrest, bystanders and even loved ones are often too scared or unsure of themselves to try to revive them.
The result: Only one quarter to one third of out-of-hospital victims gets any form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Without it, their chances of surviving drop about 10 percent every minute.
The American Heart Association (AHA) hopes its recent recommendation encouraging people to use chest compressions alone will improve their odds--and save more lives.
"Most cardiac arrests, about 75 percent, occur in the victim's own house," said Dr. Michael Sayre, chairman of the association's subcommittee that issued the updated CPR guidelines in April. "If you do this, you may end up saving the life of your wife or husband."
The association's move to approve what it calls hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation--without using mouth-to-mouth breathing--comes after three large studies in 2007 found the method just as effective as conventional CPR when used by bystanders on adult cardiac arrest victims.
Doing hands-only CPR is a good option for people not trained to do conventional CPR or who aren't sure of their ability to give the combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing it requires, according to the association.
"We're asking people to do two things. Call 9-1-1 or send someone else to call. Number two is to press hard and fast in the middle of someone's chest or breast bone," said Sayre, associate professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University.
Under the guidelines, bystanders are urged to do uninterrupted chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute on adults who unexpectedly collapse, stop breathing, and are unresponsive. They should press down the chest by 1 1/2 to two inches with the palm of their hand or four fingers, with fingers from both hands locked together and elbows not bent. Compressions should continue until medical help arrives or an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available. As AEDs, which help restore the heart's normal rhythm, become more readily available in homes, neighborhoods, and communities, more lives will be saved.
Many people are afraid to push too hard, fearing they'll crack the victim's ribs or cause another injury.
"It takes a fair amount of force to push as hard as you need to as an adult. You really have to put your back into it," advised Sayre.
"I don't want people to get too hung up on the number (of compressions) or worry about how they're doing it," he added. "Uniformly, victims will trade a couple of broken ribs for being alive."
He just wants more people to try the simpler technique, even if they haven't been trained.
The reason lies in these heart association statistics: Each year, about 310,000 Americans die of cardiac arrest outside hospitals or in emergency departments. Only about six percent stricken outside a hospital survive, although rates differ by location.
"We know that survival is doubled or tripled if victims get some CPR," said Sayre.
He stressed one technique isn't necessarily better than the other, but traditional CPR is recommended for children and for cardiac arrests due to drowning, drug overdose, or carbon monoxide poisoning. …